The History of Pop Music – 1978

Featured song:

ELO – Mr Blue Sky

This is a series of articles looking at pop music from 1955 when in my opinion proper pop music began up to 1999 when they stopped making it. One article for each year.

I am only going to select one featured song for each article, which makes it hard. I am going to try and select a different artist for each year.

For many people, and I include myself, you tend to still like the tunes you heard during childhood, which your parents often played. So rather than just pick the top 10 hits of each year, I shall let you know what they were, but also the tunes of that year not necessarily in the top 10 or so, what were in my view classics.  I also add a couple of events in history for that year, it helps bring back memories, and hopefully happy ones.

Not everyone will like my choices of course, and you may remember some from each particular year that you feel should have been included, so do please post a link to the song.

So, on we go with memories from 1978: (Thank you Wiki)

This year was about:  End of the firemen’s strike, the first “test tube” baby, bread bakers going on strike. Grease (is the word) and Night Fever being the highlights. Pretty boring year really apart from the music.

What was I doing in this year?  – I was 22, in the summer I went home on leave and got married to the first wife. Stupid thing to do. She wouldn’t come out to Germany, so I managed a posting back to the UK in Maidstone. She came to live with me in a house the Army provided and she buggered off after 3 days. I went down to Corporal Mess to have a drink that night, then me and a few lads went down the town, and I met my second and present wife. Not a bad day at all really. Got the divorce thing going, had to wait 2 years in them days.

TV programmes included:

An Audience With programmes is aired, the first presenter is Jasper Carrott, I liked him, and his insurance car sketch was very funny. Going Straight with Ronnie Barker, April – Dennis Potter’s serial Pennies from Heaven was shown, I liked that as well. – Return of the Saint with a new actor named Ian Ogilvy, Edward & Mrs Simpson. Larry Grayson succeeds Bruce Forsyth as presenter of The Generation Game. My favourite shows of the time started in this year, Blake’s Seven, All Creatures Great and Small and Butterflies. Cheggers plays Pop also started.


Prime Minister – James Callaghan (Labour)

16 January – The firefighters strike ends after three months when fire crews accept an offer of a 10% pay rise and reduced working hours.

30 January – Opposition leader Margaret Thatcher says that many Britons fear being “swamped by people with a different culture”.

3 February – An opinion poll conducted for the Daily Mail shows the Conservative opposition 11 points ahead of the Labour government, with an election due by October next year. The turnaround in fortunes for the Conservatives, who last month were narrowly behind Labour, is attributed to Margaret Thatcher’s recent comments on immigration.

23 April – Nottingham Forest win the Football League First Division title for the first time in their history. I am not a Wendyball fan these days, but was back then and this was the team I supported.

19 June – <spoiler>Cricketer Ian Botham becomes the first man in the history of the game to score a century and take eight wickets in one innings of a Test match. </spoiler>

25 July – Louise Brown becomes the world’s first human born from in vitro fertilisation, in Oldham.

7 September – Prime Minister James Callaghan announces that he will not call a general election for this autumn, and faces accusations from Tory leader Margaret Thatcher and Liberal leader David Steel of “running scared”, in spite of many opinion polls showing that Labour (currently a minority government) could win an election now with a majority, safeguarding its place in government until 1983.

1–22 December – The BBC was hit by a series of strikes. From Thursday 21 December, on television BBC One and BBC Two were taken off air, as the BBC members of the ABS union went on strike over pay. On Friday 22 December, the ABS union called its radio members out on strike, which led to the merging of BBC Radio 1, 2, 3 and 4 into a one national radio network, which from 4.00pm that Friday provided a management run schedule of news and music.

The Top 10 Singles with a You Tube hyperlink on the title:

Top Hits of 1978
   1 Boney M Rivers Of Babylon / Brown Girl In The Ring
   2 John Travolta & Olivia Newton John You’re The One That I Want
   3 John Travolta & Olivia Newton John Summer Nights
   4 The Commodores Three Times A Lady
   5 The Bee Gees Night Fever
   6 Father Abraham Smurf Song
   7 Abba Take A Chance On Me
   8 Brian & Michael Matchstalk Men & Matchstalk Cats & Dogs
   9 Boomtown Rats Rat Trap
   10 Kate Bush Wuthering Heights

What a year for ABBA still, Bee Gees with the soundtrack from Night Fever, Boney M. The film Grease came out with some terrific songs. Darts made a big breakthrough and started owning TOTP along with Showaddywaddy, Blondie and Boney M. ELO of course this year with Mr Blue Sky, Sweet Talkin Woman and Wild West Hero. Blondie of course, what a cracker she was.

My choice for the featured song was very difficult. Hardest choice ever so far and more songs chosen as it was a great year for great tunes.

The song: “Mr. Blue Sky” is a song by British rock group Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), featured on the band’s seventh studio album Out of the Blue (1977). Written and produced by frontman Jeff Lynne, the song forms the fourth and final track of the “Concerto for a Rainy Day” suite, on side three of the original double album. “Mr. Blue Sky” was the second single to be taken from Out of the Blue, peaking at number 6 in the UK Singles Chart and number 35 in the United States.

In a BBC Radio interview, Lynne talked about writing “Mr. Blue Sky” after locking himself away in a Swiss chalet and attempting to write ELO’s follow-up to A New World Record: It was dark and misty for 2 weeks, and I didn’t come up with a thing. Suddenly the sun shone and it was, ‘Wow, look at those beautiful Alps.’ I wrote Mr. Blue Sky and 13 other songs in the next 2 weeks.

Jeff Lynne re-recorded the song and other ELO tracks in his own home studio in 2012. The resulting album, Mr. Blue Sky: The Very Best of Electric Light Orchestra, was released under the ELO name. Absolute classic to me.

More writings on this song here: Mr Blue Sky

In my view the best songs of the year, after the featured track and most of the above top ten are (best to right click and open in a new window):

Village People – YMCA – Ghayness personified, thought I had better put this at the top of the list to get it over with.

Smokie – Oh Carol – super song

Boney M – Rivers Of Babylon – Classic

Boney M – Brown Girl In The Ring – Rivers of Babylon came out and got to No 1, then went down to about No 20, then went back up again for 9 weeks peeking at No 2, as the DJ’s would play the “B” side

Boney M. – Rasputin

Darts – Come back my love When you first saw Den Hegarty and just had to love the sound this band made. Another group on my playlist.

Darts – The Boy From New York City – Rita Ray is the lady singer, great voice

Darts – It’s Raining – great voices and harmony.

Showaddywaddy – I Wonder Why – Cannot hear this with doing the opening lines, A nan nan a nana nana nan nana nan. (or something like that)

Showaddywaddy – Pretty Little Angel Eyes

Showaddywaddy – A Little Bit of Soap – wonderful harmonies.

ELO – Sweet Talking Woman

ELO – Wild West Hero

Abba – Summer Night City

Bee Gees – Stayin’ Alive – This is what disco is all about.

Blondie – Picture This

Donna Summer – MacArthur Park – This lady can really sing.

Leo Sayer – I Cant Stop Loving You – Much underrated singer this guy.

Yvonne Elliman – If I can’t have you – SNF again

Justin Hayward – Forever Autumn – with lyrics so you can singalong as well.

Blondie – Denis

Suzi Quatro – If You Can’t Give Me Love

Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street – and no, Bob (I’ll have a pee please) Holness did not play the sax. It was Raphael Ravenscroft.

Lindisfarne – Run For Home – another very much underrated band.

Blondie – Hanging On The Telephone

The Rolling Stones – Miss You

Bob Marley – Is This Love

Plastic Bertrand – Ca Plane Pour Moi

Frankie Valli – Grease

Olivia Neutron bomb – Hopelessly Devoted to You – Another from Grease, but she is lovely.

10cc – Dreadlock Holiday

Donna Summer – Love’s Unkind – Great sound

The Motors – Airport

Bill Withers – Lovely Day

Brotherhood Of Man – Figaro – Total rip off of ABBA with Fernando, but they somehow got away with it.

Clout – Substitute – Girl band, great tune

Rose Royce – Love don’t live here anymore

Bonnie Tyler – It’s A Heartache – I called her the female Rod Stewart, I like it.

Althea & Donna – Uptown Top Ranking – one hit wonder, but good song.

Frankie Miller – Darlin’

Bee Gees – Too Much Heave – not exactly breaking new ground here, but a classic though.

Rod Stewart – Da Ya Think I’m Sex

A Taste Of Honey – Boogie Oogie Oogie – good disco stuff

Dean Friedman – Lucky Stars

The Jacksons – Blame It On the Boogie – Michael looking quite tanned here.

Boney M. – Mary’s Boy Child – Another perennial Christmas song.

Ian Dury and the Blockheads – What A Waste

Genesis – Follow You Follow Me – not really a favourite, just did not want to get lynched for not including a Genesis song.

Fun song: Jilted John – Jilted John

Fun Song: The Barron Knights – A Taste Of Aggro

50 songs for 1978 the most ever, as there were so many great tunes around.

Hat tips to:  these give the top 100 selling charts for each year   these give the top 10 songs for each year  you know them.

Next Time 1979.

Featured Image: Helge Øverås [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

© Phil the test manager 2019

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